The Armor of God

 

Depression. What does it feel like? What is it? I always describe it as a dark abyss….a sea of nothingness.  Where you are aware of everything around you and nothing at all. Where you feel the earth pressing down on you, but you feel so empty. When you can’t differentiate up from down or left from right.  It just happens…sets in and makes a home.  But Why? Why does it find it’s way into our hearts and why do we give it a space to call home? I’ll tell you why, because it’s finds a crack….a hole…a chink in our armor and let’s itself in.  We let our defenses down and in it comes.  So what do we do? In the darkest of dark I would pray Ephesians 6:17 over and over again. I would imagine myself putting on my armor and getting ready for battle. It would try and cover myself in so much holy spirit, that hopefully nothing else would get in. The truth is…sometimes it does get in.  Does this mean that we are not full enough of God and we have room left in our hearts? Absolutely not! Often in warfare the battle wages in waves of wins and losses.  It doesn’t always have an epic finale when we want it to.  Often, we are at war for a reason and sometimes the war is getting us ready for a revolution.  The revolution of ourselves, our families and life yet to come.  So why do we often wave the white flag and give up? I’ll tell you why.  I have stood with my toes on the edge of insanity….wiggling….face looking over into the abyss and thinking that I had come to the end.  I’ve been there! I have walked through the valley and I hate to tell you this….I’ve walked through it more then once.

In my darkest times I prayed for instant healing! To be one of those that God miraculously touches instantly.  I wasn’t though and I’m still not.  I still have a revolution going on inside of me and I know the battle isn’t over yet.  I have a call to rally those around me to pick up their swords and fight the battle that wages in the depths of their souls. To unite our inequities and fight together for the peace of our souls.  TO NOT hide within the shadows in fear and shame, but to stand proud and united in HIM.  To not lower our heads in embarrassment, but to stand proud and declare that I am WONDERFULLY and BEAUTIFULLY MADE! So are you! You are not defected or broken…you are just a mosaic of beautifully shining broken glass.  The TRUE artist knows what you are supposed to look like, but to the human eye you look broken, ugly, torn and bedraggled.  HE however did not create you to look this way, HE created you for great and mighty things. To declare your battle cry and trample over the lies that enemy has fostered in your heart for TOO long! Don’t let him make a home in the shallows of the abyss because though you feel alone, he is waiting to take up partnership with you.  He is waiting for you to bring down the castle drawbridge and lower your gates.

Often, our gates get lowered by life. What does that even mean? We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle that we lose sight of US and of HIM.  That’s why in battle we often have to lose ourselves, in order to find ourselves.  We have to be beaten and bedraggled…in order to be reborn and remade.  Battle wasn’t meant to be easy, but it is what wins wars.  So don’t stand behind the castle walls waiting for the battle to stop…it’s time to take up arms and fight.  Take up your sword, put on your helmet, and hold up your shield.  This battle does not determine who is going to win the war, but who will win the revolution for your soul.  Don’t lose sight of your fellow comrades that are fighting along side of you, because everyone has a battle that they are waging.  Stand side by side with them, because two swords are better then one.  “If you want to run fast, run alone.  If you want to run far, run together (African proverb).”

Who will you take up arms with? Who will you stop to pick up? Who will you save from the depths of Hell? Now as I am writing this, I know that some of you are in a time of pause or rest.  You aren’t meant to gather the troops yet, because you are still working on your armor.  You are crafting your sword and making it from the strongest metal.  You are not ready for a revolution because your battle has not begun. You have not gathered your quiver of arrows for battle! BUT! For those of us who are ready…we MUST fight together! WE MUST trust in our fellow comrades and WE MUST not fight alone! When an animal hunts it singles out the weakest of the herd and tries to get it away from it’s protection.  Let that not be you! Don’t single yourself out and run from your protection! Clasp together and form a bond that cannot be broken! “For two are better then one!”

 

Getting Rid of the “Shoulds”

Image result for seize the day dead poets society quote

 

 

As I sit here I am squished between a toddler and a hesitant dachshund.  It makes me realize how important it is to appreciate the moments we have in life and not look towards the next best thing.  Often we get caught in the if only, next time and the I will do this when moments in life.  We don’t realize that in order to live our best life, we need to do it right now. We cannot wait for the next chapter to turn, because each page of a book makes it worth reading.  We need to harness the hear and now…..not the I can’t wait until when.

The above has been me for the last thirty-seven years of my existence.  I am always looking towards tomorrow and never do I appreciate today.  I look towards the future and neglect the hear and now.  I always live my life in a forward motion, but don’t appreciate things until they are over.  I recently celebrated my thirty seventh revolution around the sun. A good friend asked me what I wanted in this next year and what I hoped for.  I thought what do I want?!  I have no idea! What should I want? What should I plan for? What should I want to want? Do you see the commonality in those sentences? The word is “should.” My whole life has evolved around that very word…how should I look, what should I wear, how should I act, what should I say..etc..etc.etc. You get the point.  It might appear that the last thirty seven years have been a farce, because in reality I have been doing everything the world said I “should” do.

What if we took out the “shoulds.” This last year has by far been the hardest, most challenging and earth shattering year of my life.  I had to take out the future and only live in the here and now.  My world came crashing down and I couldn’t live in the when, but only the minute, the hour or the day( if was feeling really good).  My most cherished sister friend told me one day, what if you take out the “shoulds.” What if you live each day in the present and only do things that bring you joy.  What if you took a pause from the “have to” and only do what sparks love in your heart.  I was perplexed and aghast.

So what if we raised our children this way? What if we told them that we don’t always have to do what the world says we “should” do. What if we taught them to appreciate the here and now.  What if we taught them to do the things that spark joy in their hearts.  What if we taught them to think with their hearts more often then their heads.  Would the world fall apart? What would happen? Would society end as we know it? I don’t think so. I am a firm believer that we all have joy in our hearts.  That we all have an inherit passion to love, help, and show grace. It just gets lost in the “shoulds.” Because when you “should” do it, is so much different then when you want to do it.

How do you teach little ones? How do you pass this wisdom down to their little hearts? You already are.  They are watching you under the microscope of life, but unfortunately we are so busy with the “shoulds” that they can only see us using a telescope because we are so far away from the present.

This is my challenge to you.  Take the “shoulds” out for one day. Just one. And see how your life changes. How does your heart feel? Mother Theresea once said, “if you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” My theory is this: if you love your family by taking out the “shoulds” you will find the passion that lies within each one of them, the innate love that exists within and the joy that is bursting at the seems to get out.  I challenge you to PAUSE….look down and see all that God has created.  Stop living for future and appreciate today.  PAUSE…REFLECT…..AND BREATHE.

I would love to know if you decide to take this challenge on and how it changed you? Let go…Carpe Diem!

 

The Darkness Gives Life and Growth

Do you every wonder what your identity is? Who are you? Whose are you and what are you meant to be? Are you meant to be silly? Joyful? Sad? A giver? A servant amongst the servants? Wealthy? What if I told you, you were meant to be all of those things!! But in order to reach them you had to truly become your one true self.  You would have to fully strip yourself of the person you thought you were supposed to be and become the person He meant for you to be.  You would have to be stripped fully naked and reborn.  Sounds awful right? It is…..but my friends it’s also all so beautiful.  There is beauty in the struggle, as well as there is strength.  In order to grow you have to be fully stripped of everything that is holding you back.  Bad habits, hatred, guilt, lies, darkness, and greed.  You have to strip yourself of the skin that you have been wearing since the day you were born and clean yourself of the social bullshit that has been clothing you all of these years.  You have been covered in lies…lies that tell you who you are supposed to be, instead of who you ought to be.  Lies that tell you, to look alike…instead of standing unique in your own divine purpose.  Lies that tell you that you are not beautiful, but the truth is that you were created to not only be beautiful, but to shine.  Lies that tell you that you are not good enough, but the truth is that you were destined for greatness! Lies that tell you that you could never climb that mountain, but the truth is that you were meant to sore…not walk!

So with that being said how does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly and how does a seed become a flower? They struggle..they stand towards the light and they push through.  Not because they were told that they have to, but because they know that they can.  They were created to do so and do so they do! They do not listen to the lies that are around them! They know they are beautifully and wonderfully made! They know they were created in His image and they know they were destined to do great things! Do you want to know a secret? So were you! You were created by a master craftsman and you were created to go out and conquer the world! However, you can’t conquer the world unless you conquer what is going on inside your own head! You have to stop the darkness from seeping in! From telling you lies that are not true! Are you perfect? Who is, but have you ever seen an ugly butterfly.  Butterflies were meant to struggle, break free and sore among the clouds.  And so were you! However, in order to do this you have to embrace the struggle  and embrace the SUCK! You have to realize that it is in our struggle that we find strength and life is all about the struggle.  For it is in our struggle that we find peace.  Peace?! Yes, peace….because after the struggle is over, we realize what we were meant to be and what we are still destined to become!

So pick up your shield! Pick up your sword! Tie on your belt and get ready for battle! You may get a few scars along the way, but those scars are the road map to your life.  They tell a story for all to see and they give you authority to tell your story to those who need to hear it.  They give hope to the hopeless and love to those who did not even know they needed it.  Get ready to sound your battle cry! Because it’s time to go to war! This war is not against flesh and blood, but against the lies and darkness in your own head! You thought you were fighting those around you, but in reality you are fighting yourself! You are fighting to break free of the lies that have held you down for so long! The lies that told you, you were not good enough! That you need to be a certain way in order to be happy! The lies that force you to act a certain way! ENOUGH! I say ENOUGH! It’s time to shine like the fucking unicorn you were meant to be! God does not create mistakes! He creates masterpieces! Sometimes we stray from the artwork we were meant to be and it’s time to be restored! Restored in His glory and through His glory!

Get ready for an amazing ride, because things could get ugly, but even a seed is cracked and dirty before it blooms.  Do you trust me? You should because this ride is going to be amazing! Hold on, grip your sword, put on your big girl panties, because it’s time to do some epic shit and nobody has time for a broken nail! Let’s do this and let’s do this right! Say it with me…I am good enough, I am pretty enough and I am one bad ass motherfucker! I bet you didn’t know that God liked to curse….he doesn’t out loud, but that’s what thunder and lightning were meant for.  To cleanse, to break the silence and to get the attention of those around you. To break the picturesque landscape with a death defying bolt of lightning.  Something capable of giving life and taking it away.  So that is God.  God gives and he takes away, but the shedding of life is in the eye of the beholder.  It could seem like God is being a strict Father, but in reality he is loving us in the way we were meant to be loved.  Faithfully, loyally and truthfully.  He’s restoring us to the being we were meant to be and turning us into the person we will now become.  Because life is not about being easy, it’s about the struggle and the strength we gain from climbing up that damn mountain.  God didn’t create mountains to drive through, he created them to be conquered and climbed up! So start walking and start thanking God for the struggle! For he is creating a person that will shine with the light of his glory and that will be a magnificent masterpiece that embodies the person he knew you could always be! Get off your ass and work, because there is no rest for the weary and there is no strength in the wake.  Hunger and struggle will make us the people we want to be and that realization will save humanity for the life sucking lies that go on daily around us and in us! So now what? I told you before! Stand up, pull your sword out of its sheath and get ready for battle! Because there is a war going on around you, but it’s not what you thought it would be! It resides inside of you and you are falling darkness to the lies.  Lies can kill you. Destroy you.  Incarcerate you.  Break free and fight! Flight with all of your might, because strength will be found in the struggle and the struggle with give you strength!

Ask God what you were meant to be! The answer might surprise you! For me, I am called to Love right now! How ironic! Because often I am caught up in the bullshit of my own one track and obsessed mind. He’s calling me to be present, to see, to embrace, to throw of my sack clothes and to look at those around me.  Not to turn inward and hide, but to share my struggle with the ones who need to hear it and to love them regardless.  He’s given an only child and self-centered person one task…and that is to become Love.  And you thought God didn’t have a sense of humor.  Go ahead…it’s your turn! What were you meant to become and it might just be for a moment, because in truth…life was meant to evolve and change with the seasons. Like leaves fall off of a tree (leaving it naked) and sprout again for another season. Grow with me! I’m giving you a challenge, not an order! Because growth is what life is all about! I have to go Love…because that is the moment I am in right now! Love myself, love others, love the moment and love this shell of a person that has been fighting herself her entire life.  Now that’s a challenge I am willing to take on! Who is with me!

Trial by Fire

firewoods on fire

Often we find ourselves on the brink of disaster and ruin, but we trudge through the muck and keep going.  Why? What keeps us going? Is it the belief that it is for the greater good? That our struggles make us stronger? That we need to keep walking and the journey will get easier along the way? I think it’s all of the above.

As we walk or trudge along on this journey called life, we can choose to complain about our sore feet or we can choose to dance as we climb.  Often I dance through life with a song in my head that only I know the beat to and no words exist to go along with the melody.  It’s just my song and it’s there for just me.  That’s how our journey is sometimes. It’s meant for just us, but that does not mean it cannot change your family or make generational changes.  When I first started this journey God promised me that he would make a generational change and that the dark seed of anxiety would stop with me.  So when I stood alone in the darkness and my feet did not want to carry me any further, I often would look inside and keep walking for those that will come after me. I refused and still refuse to pass this down to my children! It has and will stop with me!

My husband and I decided awhile ago that we wanted to make generational changes in our children.  We love our families, our beliefs and our traditions, but we wanted to parent differently. And that’s OK! It’s OK to be the barrier breakers, the change makers and it’s even OK to stir the pot once in awhile (I give you permission).  Just because it has always been, does not mean it has to persist! I refuse to be told that my anxiety is generational and I will not let it be an excuse for what I do or do not do! It will not be my crutch, my band-aide or my shackle.  It actually is what catapulted me into my journey to freedom.

How can this be? How can a positive come out of something that is so negative? Anxiety has been that nag, that dull ache that we often notice.  It goes away and comes back, but it’s never that bad…so we just go on with it.  We don’t realize that it’s building up inside of us.  We think that we are controlling it, but really it is the one controlling us.  Piece by piece it breaks us down and piece by piece we loose ourselves.  Until we get to a point where our foundation is unsteady and it only takes a small wave to send us out to sea.  That is what happens when we rest our foundations on shaky ground and never take the time to repair them.  Sometimes we need to come to the end of ourselves to find ourselves and this is not necessarily a bad thing.  It’s a BLESSING! A blessing that we never would have arrived at, if we did not have to be rebuilt.

Being rebuilt is a slow, agonizing and often painful process.  But it’s also so BEAUTIFUL! You get to decide what you will look like, who will be a part of your process and how you will unveil the newest masterpiece. Being sent into the fire is a GIFT, even though we will get scorched and burnt because we were meant to rise from the ashes.  We were meant to be reborn and to evolve.  Did you ever think that tragedy was meant to TRANSFORM us and allow us to rebuild.  To rebuild our hearts, our minds and maybe even our bodies.

Are your feet feeling hot because the fire of life is burning beneath? Take a deep breath, look to the heavens, smile and keep walking! Yes, it might hurt! Yes, you will have to work for it! Yes, it might me agonizing! But if you never experienced tragedy, you would not know the sweet taste of victory, love, and grace!

Remember you are LOVE! You are LOVED and are meant to LOVE! However, you cannot love, if you don’t love yourself first! Every dirty, singed and ash ridden piece. Each piece serves a purpose and each piece is part of the beautiful MOSAIC called YOU!

Darkness does not stand a chance…if you have light.

This weekend represented so much to my husband and me. It was some much needed time together and it also represented VICTORY! Many times as I laid in a heap of tears, anger, fear and confusion, I wondered if my life would ever be the same again and if my marriage would survive this wrecking ball because you have to be destroyed in order to be rebuilt.

My husband often asked if we would ever be able to go out again, plan, have adventures and travel. The truth was I didn’t know. I had no idea how I would come out of this, but God promised me I would and I held onto that promise. Because that promise was the only thing that kept me going and that promise extinguished the flames of darkness that smoldered in my brain every minute of the day. Some days I had to remind myself of that promise every minute, every hour and sometimes every second. I had to hold onto it because I was afraid if I let go, I would fall deeper into the abyss of nothingness and despair.

My husband would occasionally speak his fear because he too was afraid of me letting go and watching me fall down the rabbit hole. Even if he didn’t speak it, the fear and worry was written all over his face. He had to stay strong, but his body often gave him away. Fear engulfs everyone around you like a title wave, but the beauty of the wave is that it takes everything with it out to sea. You can either choose to get lost in the ocean or let it strip you clean of everything. Shame, humility, fear and embarrassment. It will either bring you to your knees or sweep the grains of sand right from beneath your feet.

The absence of fear never really exists because fear does serve an intended purpose….if we let it. It stains all the areas of weakness that are present and allows us to see where it’s creeping in and how we need to stop it in its path.

For me control was the big catalyst of my fear and the fear of losing control stoked my anxiety.

I heard God telling me that I was trying to control things that were beyond my control. He controlled the wind, the waves and the seas. I could not control everything. He told me that giving up control was my biggest vice and it would be my greatest victory. I could not control the sun or the moon..only he could. The earth rotates because He told it to. Life was not up to me and not everything could be planned. It had served me well, but it was time to let it go.

Control would will strangle you like a serpent and leave you dead in its wake. You cannot control people, you cannot control things and I could not control Him. He had a plan and a purpose, but I just hadn’t seen it. He created the heavens and the earth with a purpose and did the same with you and me. Victory would be mine, but patience was key.

I needed to delight in the small victories and the miracles that had been happening around me. They were not in vain, but were there to lead me to victory.

I needed to lean on those around me because my weakness gave them strength. Strength to falter, strength to make mistakes and strength to ask for help. He was glorified through my weakness because he sent people to help me. I needed to open my eyes and heart and..shut my mind off. My mind is an amazing tool, but it was destroying me at that moment. My heart needed to lead the way and the door needed to be opened.

There would be no more have tos or obligations…only joy. He did not create me with guilt..only love. I had shut love off a long time ago because it was easier then getting hurt. I need to love with my whole heart and not just part of it. Love was a gift and a great power. When I truly love it emanates from my body and the people around me feel it. That’s true love. Sustaining love. Soul quenching love. I needed to go out and love out of joy and not obligation. Love is not forced. It is the holiest of gifts. A gift not everyone deserves to the fullest extent. It was time to change my mental framework and view myself like He did. Like my husband did. He created me and he did not create a mistake. I was to love myself, like I loved others. I was to choose joy because heavens gates are opened with love and so are our spirits.

When you love out of joy, that shows your true leadership. A forced love never shines. It was time to shine my light and let my heart lead the way. Darkness does not stand a chance in the light of love. It slithers and hides because it’s blinded by the glory.

Heaven was not formed out of guilt, but out of His love for mankind. A father loves his children like no other and I would feel this love again. He promised me that I would twirl and dance and laugh until my sides hurt because it was music to a father’s ears

He delighted in my joy, my happiness and splendor. Love would grow like a fire being stoked by the wind. I just needed to take down the barriers that were blocking it. Once I did this I would see His glory.

Glory was not meant for heaven alone, but the people on earth. My family had taught me obligation and guilt. I needed to unlearn it. I needed to learn to love myself without guilt or condemnation because I was teaching my children to love themselves. My children could not do this if I did not love and nurture myself. Mind, body and spirit.

I had abused my body no longer. It could not go on. I needed to heal in order to love again, but healing would come from the inside. I needed to love myself like he loved me, not because He has to but because I bring Him great joy! Not for what I do, but because of the person He created me to be. I needed to love others in the same way.

  • Choose truth instead of guilt, shame and condemnation.
  • Release my old self and look towards my new self.
  • Sever soul ties with people and events.
  • Picture guilt, shame and condemnation and handing them over to God. Asking God what he wanted to replace them with.

I’m afraid of the dark…

lighted candle

My entire life I have been afraid of the dark.  Terrified. Frozen. Heart beating as I stand there in the emptiness of night.  There is something about the dark that is both calming and frightening, all tangled into one velvety dark mess.

Am I afraid of the boogieman?  Maybe.  The creatures that lurk under the bed? Could be.  To be honest I have no idea, what makes it so scary.  Maybe it’s the idea of being all alone in the absence of light.  Light gives our eyes the ability to see and our body the nourishment it needs.  So what then is the darks purpose? Is is to bring rest? Rejuvenation?  Or maybe just the ability to quiet your mind and come in contact will all that encompasses the world around you.

On my honeymoon I went black water rafting in the glowworm caves in NZ.  The guide explained that the absence of light for too long of a period of time, could drive a person to insanity.  Insanity?! Not just a little crazy, but insane.  How can the dark have so much power and what control did it harness to be able to control our minds and bodies?

In my darkest days, I saw no light.  I laid there with the inability to move, eat, sleep or even interact.  I was a velvety dark mess.  My mind raced.  My body ran a marathon each day.  I could not see the light.  The absence of light caused me to spin into a dark deep “pit.” A pit that was so deep, I had no idea how to get out or save myself.  I fell deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole.  I thought I was going insane.  I thought this was the end.  Thoughts of suicide entered my head and nested to make a home.  I tried to see the flicker of light, a flame or even the dim light from someone’s lamp.  There were days where I called those chosen few a million times a day.  Just so I could borrow some oil from their lamp and their truth could set flame to the oil they shared.  I took more in this season then I could ever give back.  It was a season of taking because I could barely take care of myself.

I asked God if I was going insane.  Why was he doing this to me and I was frightened that I would never come out of it.  I was the lucky one.  I held onto the flicker of hope that I held in my heart, that this journey was not in vain.  That I would come out of this and cross into the promised land.  No one could help me out.  It had to be me.  I had to climb, struggle and break free of all that held me down and that which was strangling the life out of me.  I could not be pulled free, but just keep borrowing the oil from the lamps around me.

Often it was just me and God.  Alone for hours and days and months.  Just us.  He heard my cries, my screams and my fits of terror.  He did not abandon or forsake me, but gave me the tools to break free and journey another day.  The weaker I grew..the stronger I became.  Not physically, not mentally, but spiritually. I never knew how much I would need God, until I stood on the precipice of insanity.  That’s when Hell becomes real and the hopes of Heaven become the grains of hope that you hold onto.

I was the lucky one, because I was able to eventually see the light.  The absence of light drove me to the edge of insanity, but I chose to look towards the light.  The light of those around me, the light of what this journey might serve, the light of what it meant for my family and the promise of never falling backward, but only moving forward.

I chose to hold onto the light.  What will you do? You do not have to do this alone! Seek help.  Grab a map and a hand.  Borrow some oil and light your own lamp.  The absence of light is scary, but if we never had darkness…we would never be able to see the light!  For it is in our darkest hours, that we are made strong and it is in the darkest night, that the stars become our compass home.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.